Amory B. Lovins is an American physicist and energy conservationist. His work has focused on the different capabilities of various alternative energy resources.
Lovins was born in 1947 in Washington, D.C. He attended Harvard and Oxford Universities. He taught at Oxford until 1971, when he left to begin work for the organization Friends of the Earth. He has been Regents' Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley and has consulted for the United Nations and other environmental organizations.
Throughout his career, Lovins has taken a strong position on the matter of hard and soft
energy paths. A hard energy path is one with a complex route, expensive means for producing more power, and dangerous capabilities. Some examples are fossil fuels and nuclear energy. These sources not only harden increasingly over time, but they also become scarce. With hard energy paths, it is often a matter of choosing power and convenience over the well-being of future
generations. In addition, choices in favor of hard paths are usually more difficult to reverse, if for no other reasons than economic ones. Lovins is a passionate critic of such sources, condemning them for the price they exact from the environment and from posterity.
Lovins instead supports soft energy sources. These include the windmill and -- more and more as societies move into the future -- solar energy. These sources are usually cheaper in the long run and much simpler. Most importantly, they have few destructive elements and are renewable. Methane and manure are also examples of the soft energy path. Lovins has devoted his work to studying the two paths and their social and environmental consequences, good and bad.